We have just sprinted through the birthday/holiday portion of our family calendar, officially ending with February 15th and our youngest son’s birthday. My iBoy is another year older!
As I was pulling through my recipe files looking for the requested “plain yellow cake”, I was startled by the memory of another “plain yellow cake” I volunteered to make almost several years ago. And I cringed.
Yeah, I remember that.
The story goes something like this: 3 kids and many gray hairs ago…
I thought I could decorate cakes for extra money. I learned the basics, loved to bake and like most things (then and now); what I lack in true talent, I’ll make up for with enthusiasm! At least, that was the plan.
What didn’t factor into my delicious money-making plan was the “three children” part of my story. Some reading today have way more children and have done just fine. God bless you. That was not me.
It may or may not come as a surprise to learn that I thought I could handle it all, or at the very least, bluff my way through anything.
It was a relative breeze going from no children to one child. And child number two was not that big of a change either. So, hey, I got this thing!
Enter child three…..whoa Nelly. I can’t explain it but, this third child triggered a veritable vortex in my world which sucked me down and held me under for quite a long time.
All the things I used to do with ease and grace…were not easy and seldom graceful. People, I was a wreck. Nothing could prepare me for the assault on my pride, intellect and vanity to discover inwardly that I could not do it all and, what little I could do, was not going to get done well.
But I’d never confess it.
I expected life to get back to “normal” but there was no such place to get back to. “Normal” had changed it’s address and left no forwarding number!
Cake. This story is about cake. The moment of my undoing began one morning as I sat in the middle of “Mt. McLaundry . I was trying to nurse child three to sleep for his morning nap, propped on a pillow held against my knee, while attempting to match socks. The phone rang. It was son #2’s Preschool Director asking me what time the cakes would be ready for the graduation ceremony on Friday.
Silence. Shock. No awe.
I’d completely forgotten about the 2 half-sheet cakes I had been hired to make for graduation… now only 2 days away.
Quick! Bluff! RECOVER! Hanging up, with happy assurances they’d be there…I went into instant panic mode. How could I forget? Shoot, HOW could I remember?!?
Abandoning my tenuous foothold on “Mt. McLaundry”, off to the grocery store I went to buy supplies before the afternoon carpool run. So much for nap time.
Bah. I could do this. I would do this.
People. I was an un-holy cake-baking terror for the next 24 hours. On a mission to preserve my reputation (more like salvage my ego), I undoubtedly wreaked family destruction in the process. Those cakes got made by glory.
Step one done:
Frost and set. Check.
The cakes were placed in the garage/office area allowing the frosting to “set” while I mixed up the decorator icing; one on the workbench and one on the chair. Check. Husband would keep an eye on things. Check.
Who knows how long it took. All I recall is the “NO! Don’t sit….” followed by “Uh-oh”: the “shot heard round ” my world that night. My dented cake and middle son’s frosted backside was all it took to take me down…..down….
I didn’t cry; I howled. Fists banging and screaming, I collapsed in a heap. Ugly cry time. No time, money or ingredients to start over. Bondo.
I quickly whipped up another batch of frosting and filled that moon-crater with as much as it would hold. A huge, disgusting glob fleshing out a whole corner. Mmmm. Then decorated with lots of squiggly stuff everywhere and acted like it it never happened…the end. I wish.
The cake…was edible if not rather hideous and gaudy. I think it turned everyone’s lips and fingertips yellow. For some reason, there was a lot left over…maybe because my son kept telling people about the “hiney cake” and showing where he sat. Nice.
I found this picture and had to laugh! Oh my goodness. So funny and so terribly SAD! Look at that cake and….look at that poor girl!
See it in her eyes? Pride? Fear? The die-hard people pleaser so far from God and so afraid to fail. Miserable and lonely most of the time. So unsure of herself and too afraid to ask for help.
That was me.
Could be still
if I’m not careful.
Not that I’ve come SO far since then…it’s more, that I’m gradually turning toward home. Maybe accept the challenges as well as my limitations and desperate dependency on God, who I’ve since come to know not only as my Savior…
but as my Lord.
So I can remember this event with humor and compassion, extending grace, love and mercy to that poor girl 13 years ago and love the girl in the mirror now.
I can also choose to see with new eyes, and extend grace and mercy to the struggling women around me…
- some fearful of failure,
- some lonely and young with children,
- some newly married and learning what love really is,
- some broken from the “whatevers” of life.
That’s where the healing is and the power of God’s redeeming, restoring . Over time, as God redeems, these memories soften and what once could have been a source of shame and bitterness is now a sweet source of strength. I’ve learned “humble cake” is really not so bad. I don’t mind sharing!